Season Six, Episode Fifteen — “East”

© Copyright 2016, AMC. All Rights Reserved.

© Copyright 2016, AMC. All Rights Reserved.

By Jarrod Jones. Nope, nope, nope. No you don’t, The Walking Dead. You pulled that janky shit with Glenn earlier this season. Death fakery officially became beneath you well before Nicolas sprayed his brains all over Mr. Maggie Greene, his empty husk pulling Glenn down into an abyss that certainly looked like certain death. (At least, for a couple of weeks.) That episode, “Thank You”, has trained me to actively distrust you, TWD. You can’t fool me.

Yet, here we are again, only this time you’re pulling this nonsense with Daryl Dixon, in an act of sadistic manipulation that is only made more cruel with Dwight’s purportedly reassuring words just after our screens were bathed in Daryl’s blood. “He’ll be alright.” Oh, word?

Of course Daryl will be alright. After all, Rick & Co. have yet to contend with TWD‘s most heinous villain yet. Negan’s definitely arriving in grand, horrific fashion, and the smart money’s on Jeffrey Dean Morgan making his debut a bloody one. Someone we love is going to die, and if you’ve been paying attention at all to this season’s feints, teases, and casual indifference to comic book canon, you know as I do that all the chips are going to rest on the table right next to the mark labeled “Dixon”.

It may as well be Daryl, for all the good he’s done this season. One expertly-placed rocket launch aside, the Wee Dixon has become more a liability than anything else. “It’s gonna go wrong out here,” Glenn pleads with Daryl, who seems hellbent on getting himself killed in the name of retribution. Daryl doesn’t respond, not right away. He just shifts in place, looking for a way around the people who need him. (And maybe I’m just projecting here, but it looks like Norman Reedus was also eyeballing a way off this show from underneath his artfully placed greasy locks.)

WHAT WORKED: Carol’s arc has quietly become one of the more intriguing ones of TWD, primarily because I don’t think any of us saw it coming. As she’s tallied up the corpses she’s left in her wake, Carol contends with the meek housewife she used to be with the honed, patient killer she’s become. But everyone has their limits, and Carol knows this: when the fur has flown too often, you Fury Road a Volkswagen, you make some Rice Crispie Treats, and you peace the fuck out. In a show about cause and effect, few people actually consider the effects of the decisions they make. All Carol wants is to live in peace. But the world in which she lives will never, ever allow that. *grabs popcorn*

WHAT DIDN’T: Morgan’s subplot — you know, the one that concerns itself with TWD‘s biggest non-starter, The Wolves — has amounted to his decision to walk the Earth like David Banner while some sad-bastard music plays behind him. Morgan needs to find Carol, which is fitting, given that they’re not as diametrically opposed in their philosophies as they used to be. But why the hell would Rick let Morgan go, especially when he knows a reckoning with Negan is coming sooner than later?

In fact, why the hell is everyone bailing on Alexandria right now? Carol has the worst timing — walking out on her allies just when everything’s about to go pear-shaped, thus sending Rick & Co. on a mad scramble after her when they should be fortifying their defenses, is but one example of TWD hitting the gas pedal to get its characters where they need to be for this season’s finale. We’ve seen this play out before (Terminus, anyone?). I hope this show knows what it’s doing.


The world’s ours. And we know how to take it.” — Rick.

“That woman… she’s a force of nature.” – Rick, on Carol.

BEST MOMENT: Carol is King. Faced against a pack of Saviors on an open road with no help in sight, Carol appears to be buffaloed. So she phases into “little bird” mode, and begins to weep openly, begging to be let go — or is she begging them to leave before she kills the shit out of them? Appears to be the latter, as Carol opens up with a hail of bullets that mows all them sonsabitches down. (What did Carol have stuffed up her sleeves? I’m sure I don’t want to know.)

EPISODE’S MVP: Carol. Melissa McBride may have been shuffled away for the first half of Season Six, but she’s stepped into the show’s center as The Walking Dead‘s most complex character. Her showdown with the Saviors is just another example of Carol’s doomed existence. We should ache for her. But it’s so damned thrilling to watch her Hulk out. (You wouldn’t like her when she’s angry.)

© Copyright 2016, AMC. All Rights Reserved.

© Copyright 2016, AMC. All Rights Reserved.


– Johnny Cash-infused montages are equal parts lovely and ominous. They’re designed to disarm us with The Man In Black’s folksy, rugged charm — and it certainly pulls that off. But then comes the nagging thought that this is all by design, that we’re meant to feel at ease so when the rug gets yanked out from underneath us later on, we never saw it coming. Daryl? Maggie? What the hell is going on? I wasn’t ready for this, dammit!

– Maggie and Glenn’s shower seems to foreshadow what appears to be a miscarriage by the end of this week’s episode, but what does it all mean? What do you think? Does this portend Glenn’s unceremonious axing at the hands of Negan next week (or rather, “batting”), or did Maggie just encounter the fallout of Carol’s icky acorn and beet cookies?

– “When they come for us, we’ll end it.” Rick’s cavalier attitude about Negan continues to be the show’s one source for hilarity. You keep telling us that, Deputy.

– Did Daryl just ride off to his destiny? Probably not, or at least, probably not just yet. I see Norman Reedus having at least one more episode left in him, and maybe some kinda poignant flashback episode next year, before he bids The Walking Dead a fond adios.

6.5 out of 10

Next: “Last Day on Earth”, soon.

Before: “Twice As Far”, here.